St. Louis secondary presents tough test

SEAHAWKS: Getting pass offense going against Rams corners Finnegan, Jenkins may be difficult

Staff writerSeptember 28, 2012 

RENTON – Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman have a reputation for being hard-nosed and physical.

The St. Louis Rams also have two guys like that in Cortland Finnegan and rookie Janoris Jenkins, who should provide a tough challenge for Seattle’s receivers Sunday.

Finnegan, a seven-year veteran, signed with St. Louis in free agency and has teamed up with his old Tennessee coach, Jeff Fisher, who is in his first season in charge of the Rams.

The 5-foot-10, 188-pound Finnegan is known for his competitive nature and feistiness, and he isn’t shy about talking trash to receivers.

Finnegan also can defend against the pass, as evidenced by his three interceptions this season – including one for a touchdown – good enough to be tied for second in the league.

“You’ve got to be physical with him for the whole game, because that’s exactly what he’s going to do,” Seattle receiver Sidney Rice said. “He has a nose for the ball. He competes every game on film, so we have to bring our ‘A’ game as receivers.”

Added Seattle defensive lineman Jason Jones, Finnegan’s teammate for four years in Tennessee: “You want him on your team on the football field, because the way he plays with that feistiness, he definitely knows how to get under your skin, do little things and talk to you. He’s definitely going to talk to you.”

On the other corner is Jenkins, who was one of the best cover corners available in this year’s draft but slipped into the second round because of off-the-field issues. Jenkins started his college career at Florida but transferred to North Alabama after failing two drug tests.

The Rams took a risk in drafting Jenkins 39th overall, and so far it has paid off.

The 5-10, 193-pound Jenkins has 17 tackles and one interception.

“He’s a pretty good rookie, from what I’ve seen on film,” Rice said. “He’s quick getting in and out of his breaks and things like that.”

The cornerback tandem has helped St. Louis limit opponents to a total of two passing touchdowns, tied for first in the league.

St. Louis faces a Seattle offense that is last in the league in passing at just 127.7 yards per game. The Seahawks have had only six completions of 20 yards or more, second-worst in the league.

Seattle has thrown the ball an average of 25 times per contest, last in the NFL.

Rice, who leads the team with eight catches for 91 yards and one TD, said he’s not frustrated with the lack of targets.

“It’s the way our game plan is right now,” Rice said. “We’re winning, so you can’t say too much about it. As long as we’re getting those W’s in the win column, it doesn’t matter where the pass game is. It’s a team sport, definitely. And right now our running game is working really well.”

Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he’s to blame him for the conservative play calling. The Seahawks are averaging 141.6 rushing yards per game, sixth in the NFL.

“I really think this is me holding the lid on it right now,” Carroll said. “And I’m overseeing all of that and making sure that what’s more important to us is that we take care of the football – more than anything. I don’t care about the yards.

“And the thing that we’re concerned about is we’ve got to convert on third downs. We did a poor job on third down, particularly in the second half (against Green Bay). And we have to get better there. But as it fits together, we’re growing.”

EXTRA POINTS

Seattle’s starting right tackle, Breno Giacomini (pectoral), and right guard John Moffitt (knee) did not practice Thursday. Frank Omiyale would be the likely replacement for Giacomini, and Paul McQuistan or J.R. Sweezy could replace Moffitt. … Second-year pro James Carpenter is likely to see his first action this season at left guard if he makes it through this week healthy. … Linebacker Leroy Hill (calf) and defensive tackle Jason Jones (knee) also did not practice. Rookie defensive linemen Greg Scruggs (wrist) and Jaye Howard (foot) were limited participants. … The Seahawks made a couple of changes to their practice squad, adding running back Lonyae Miller and bringing back offensive guard Rishaw Johnson. To make room for them, Seattle let go of tight end Sean McGrath and placed linebacker Korey Toomer on the injured reserve list. Toomer’s injury was not announced.

eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com

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